The Resilient Lawyer – The Importance of Rule #6

This is now the 10th article in my resilience series.  I have spent a lot of time since I posted my last article pondering what I was going to write about this week.  After all, I consider resilience to be a very serious topic given my own personal struggles, which, left uncared for, almost led to a complete breakdown.  

When I finally sat down to write this week, I had decided that I would build on last week’s article about resilience as a habit.  I began by reviewing the notes that I had taken on James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits.”  While reviewing my notes, something was just not feeling right, so I started to review the notes that I had taken from some of the other books that I had read to see what else I could write about.  When I came across my notes about Rule #6 from “The Art of Possibility,” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, I instantly knew I had to write about that instead.  

What is Rule #6 you ask?  “Don’t take yourself so damn seriously!”  Reading my notes on this rule, caused me to pause and think about how I had been approaching this week’s article.  You see, I’ve been feeling a little writer’s block this week, which translated into additional pressure on myself to perform.  All week, I’ve been silently obsessing in the back of my mind about how to pick the perfect topic, and cover the perfect points, and use the perfect words . . . and so on. I realized then and there that, even though resilience is a serious topic, I was just taking myself too damn seriously and it was impeding my creativity – which, of course, only made the block worse. 

There is no doubt that we have a lot of serious stuff going on in today’s world.  From the pandemic to the political insanity raging just south of our border – there is way too much to worry about these days.  It’s easy to get so caught up in all of this seriousness that it negatively affects our moods and our behaviour.  

As the Zanders point out in their book, it’s important to practice “lightening up” every now and then.  Not only will this have a positive effect on you, it will also have a positive effect on others around you.  The Zanders state:

Humor and laughter are perhaps the best way we can “get over ourselves.”  Humor can bring us together around our inescapable foibles, confusions, and miscommunications, and especially over the ways in which we find ourselves acting entitled and demanding, or putting other people down, or flying at each other’s throats.

Reflecting on this reminds me of an example of how Rule #6 has worked for me and my resilience.  A former colleague of mine always had a good joke to tell and his delivery was always worthy of a professional comedian.  So, if I found myself having a particularly stressful day at work, I would walk by his office and ask him if he had any good jokes to tell me.  Despite his usual protests that he did not, he would eventually lay one on me that would have me in stitches.  The laughing instantly evaporated the stress that had been building up, and I would head back to my office feeling renewed.  Even though I am no longer working at the office today, thinking back on these experiences alone brings a sense of lightness to me as I write this article.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that not always taking ourselves so damn seriously plays an important role in developing our resilience.  Humour helps to lighten our mood and connects us with others.  So, if you find the need to just get over yourself, take a moment, breathe and then go find someone to tell you a good joke, find some good jokes on the internet, or watch a comedy on TV.  Sometimes what you really need is to just laugh it off – this little act of relief will give your resilience a good boost when you need it.